This past Sunday I had the honour of being invited to read at the SPARKS Literary Festival at Memorial University. This free annual one-day event showcases some of the best in Newfoundland writing as poets, fiction and non-fiction writers have the opportunity to gather and read from their work. The mid-afternoon segment at which I read included readings by poet Don MacKay and novelists Catherine Hogan Safer and Gerard Collins, with the whole thing being emcee’d by the eminent Lisa Moore.
To be honest, I’ve always felt a little intimidated by the SPARKS festival as it seems to include a lot of “real writers” and I’m never sure how “real” I am. The above video does not include my reading from Sunday (as I had no-one with me to videotape my performance) and only fleeting glimpses of the other eminent authors. What it reveals instead are lots of my writerly insecurities, such as my fear of making small-talk with people I don’t know well, my fear that my writing is not literary enough, and, of course, my fear that my clothes are never artsy enough for this type of event. Seriously, the only time in my entire life that I ever worry about or even give a second thought to what I’m wearing is when I have to read at an event that includes other writers. I’m afraid my wardrobe will show me up, not as being hideously unstylish (I am, but I can live with that and most of the writers I know are hardly stylish) but hideously bourgeois and un-bohemian. Which I also am, but I’m not sure I want to advertise it on the outside of my body like that.
After several weeks of giving you a glimpse into my writing process, it’s time for a glimpse into the tortured insecurities of my writerly brain. It would be great to reach a point in life where I never compared myself to others or worried about what others thought of me, just like it would be great to reach a point where I have no anxiety about making conversation with people. But this point, my friends, has not yet been reached. Perhaps those good times lie ahead in old age. I can only hope.